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The Oedipus Plays Audiobook

The Oedipus Plays: An Audible Original Drama

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Publisher's Summary

The three Theban plays by Sophocles - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone - are one of the great landmarks of Western theatre. They tell the story of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who was destined to suffer a terrible fate - to kill his father, marry his mother, and beget children of the incestuous union. He does this unknowingly but still has to suffer terrible consequences, which also tragically affect the next generation.

These three plays were written around 450 BC, with the playwright following the established convention of presenting the story through main characters but using a chorus - sometimes one voice, sometimes more - as an independent commentator that also occasionally participates in the drama. When the audiences of ancient Athens went to the amphitheatres to see the plays, they would have known the basic story of poor Oedipus.

Nevertheless, the power of Sophocles' retelling made the Theban plays deeply horrifying and affecting - and this is still true now, some 2,500 years later. There is also a strong contemporary resonance for us, for in the 20th century the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud famously adopted the story to illustrate his Oedipus complex, which, he argued, was a condition of the unconscious mind in boys - that they want to sleep with their mothers. It is interesting that through the character of the queen, Jocasta, in Oedipus the King, Sophocles states this unequivocally.

Oedipus the King is well known. The other two are less so: Oedipus at Colonus, which deals with his last days, and Antigone, which casts the spotlight on his daughter, who, as part of the accursed blood line, chooses to act in a way she believes is right, whatever the consequences. Yet they are equally powerful and moving.

This audio production, with Jamie Glover as Oedipus and Hayley Atwell as his daughter, Antigone, is a world premiere audio recording of all three plays.

With the authoritative but modern translation by Ian Johnston, specially commissioned new music from the English composer Roger Marsh, and a cast of outstanding actors, this Audible Original presentation of Sophocles' Theban plays will be listened to not once but many times.

©2015 Audible Originals (P)2016 Audible Originals

What the Critics Say

"This outstanding full cast, and Roger Marsh's original music, serves Ian Johnston's vigorous verse translation of Sophocles very well. None of the actors can be singled out; they're all marvelous at combining the original declamatory tradition with modern ideas about portraying character and emotion. The result is a moving dramatic experience that is enhanced by, but does not require, a background in the classics. This is a first-rate example not only of why the classics endure, but also of what can be done with the medium of audio." (AudioFile magazine)

"The casting is first rate, as are Ian Johnston's strong, simple lines and the startlingly effective music." (The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (71 )
5 star
 (48)
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3 star
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2 star
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4.6 (67 )
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Story
4.7 (67 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Vincent 07-27-16
    Vincent 07-27-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Was truly great!"

    I absolutely love these plays and the cast here was great. If your buying to hear the tale for the first time or refreshing yourselves of the joy of these, this is a great buy. I personally loved the acting and I have not one bad word for Sophocles.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jkeramidas Brooklyn, NY 07-26-16
    jkeramidas Brooklyn, NY 07-26-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    91
    4
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    "Great performance but..."

    Much of it sounds like it was recorded in a garage. Muted, sometimes echoing. And then there are times, particularly with the chorus that sound like a studio. Just diminished the listening experience a bit

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zeus Baba Oslo, Norway 09-02-16
    Zeus Baba Oslo, Norway 09-02-16 Member Since 2015

    a humble scholar of the ancients...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    31
    13
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    "mesmerizing!"

    such a masterful performance of the most profound tragedy of all time.
    listen, read, feel every scene!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LacyADM Texas 07-12-16
    LacyADM Texas 07-12-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    2
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    "So Well Done!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this to anyone who loves Greek tragedy, and to anyone forced to read Greek tragedy against your will!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Antigone, voiced by Hayley Atwell. A strong and compassionate woman.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    Hayley Atwell's performance was enchanting. She removed all stiffness from the translation and conveyed the emotion of the character.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listened to each of the plays in one sitting apiece. They are not the kind of stories you binge on - they are the kind you listen to and then digest as you ponder them later.


    Any additional comments?

    There's a reason Greek tragedy is still relevant almost 2500 years after it was written. This is a great way to introduce yourself to it, and it's also a great way to enjoy it even if you've already read and loved the works in print.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex 06-21-16
    Alex 06-21-16 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "Outstanding for something written about 441 bc"
    Where does The Oedipus Plays rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    About the upper middle


    What other book might you compare The Oedipus Plays to and why?

    None... Oedipus was unique


    Which scene was your favorite?

    N/A


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    It was an extremely well orated story. Despite being familiar with the tale, I found it to be quite entertaining. I agree with some previous posts that the musical accompaniment was distracting and annoying which explains the 4 star rating. The chorus was consistent with story structure of the period and might not be for everyone, but I got used to it. It was definitely worth the Audible credit!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Anna Maria Rusanova
    6/25/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great!"

    I liked the way the play was transfermed in an audio book!!! Great readrs too!!! Thank you for providing it for free!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Dr
    6/21/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "In the harsh Sophoclean Light"

    Each time I read (or in this case listen to) Oedipus The King, it grows more devastating. I read it first as a student some 13 years ago and it moved me then despite my tender age. I tought the play when I became a teacher, and renewing my aquaintance with it again at 32, thanks to this excellent production, I find that it has grown even more powerful. You need age and success on your side to truly understand the dreadful implications of this story of a good but proud man brought to ruin by an inescapable destiny. Anyone interested in Theatre or Literature should get this. you don't need a grounding in Greek mythology to enjoy it as most actions are explained by the characters, but be advised it isn't an easy listen. The production values are good and the acting is for the most part excellent; Johnstone's translation is indeed authoritative, but it it sometimes lacks the pithiness of Robert Fagles' translation. this is made up for by the strength and pathos of the main performers, and the occasional clunkiness of the translation is most apparent in the lines of the chorus; watch out for Jonathan Oliver, something about his voice suits his role in the chorus perfectly. I look forward to listening to the two remaining Theban plays, but I think Oedipus will haunt me forever. I've learned to count no man truly happy until he is dead, and you don't forget lessons like that in a hurry.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Clavs
    6/21/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very well performed"

    This dramatisation of the Oedipus plays is very well performed. It really has the drama of ancient Greek theatre. I also really liked the musical interludes and the way the plays were split up. The only frustrating thing was the really short chapters that sometimes change mid dialogue. I couldn't find a good place to pause.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Isolde
    7/15/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Poor translation"

    This translation is very peculiar, combining modern idioms with formalised speech. It really doesn't work. The performers do an okay job with a very poor script, though the chorus doesn't have a unified in flexion. Disappointing overall

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Christopher
    7/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thought provoking"

    A good interpretation and very worth the experience of listening. It certainly makes you think.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Gavin
    Dunbar, United Kingdom
    7/4/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not for me.Felt dated"

    Thought I would enjoy as I love audio Drama. This just seemed dated and filled with annoying music and group chanting.
    I'm sure it is actually better than I rate it but as I say it did not work for me.
    On the plus side i did learn from it and understand the story better

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • B. Whelan
    UK
    12/5/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent performance"

    Really brought these works to life . Excellent production and free. Some great performances a must have.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roy Pierce-Jones
    United Kingdom
    11/23/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Formal and controlled performances."

    There are a number of excellent performances here, particularly from the leading players but the chorus ,when speaking in unison ,sound rather like thespian versions of the Daleks.The overall rather formal translation feels a little restrictive at times.There are more interesting and vivid translations of these plays available and this very strong cast would have achieved even better performances had they been working with the translation of "Antigone" by Seamus Heaney for example. These are wonderful plays and are still worthwhile listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ms. L. M. Haynes
    11/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Accessible and enjoyable"

    I really enjoyed this set of plays. Well acted and an accessible translation that was well balanced between dramatic and vernacular English.

    If I had to make any criticism it could be that the acting was a little hammy in places and the translation possibly a little clunky on occasion but that really is nit picking. If Oedipus is on your "must read" list then I don't think you'll be disappointed with this version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Robin Toone
    10/31/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Oedipus plays"

    It's great to hear these classic plays performed by these great actors, I enjoyed them emensley

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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